Democratic Underground

Looking for a Few Good Deputies
July 9, 2001
by Jorge Root

Arizona already has the most feared sheriff on the planet so John McCain cant't claim that title. Nonetheless, make no mistake, there is a new sheriff in town and he's taking his act to Washington. McCain has sent the popular and obligatory salvo called "the shot across the bow" to the Republicans both in the Senate and House. His message is plain and simple, "Campaign Finance Reform, it's my passion, don't mess with me on this one." Somehow I get the feeling Senate and House members had better sit up and pay attention.

Throughout his public career, McCain has been known for being a leader in the critical issues of lower taxes, national defense, sound foreign policy, Native American rights and deregulation-free trade. McCain will still champion these issues, but the bulk of his energy is now focused on Campaign Finance Reform (CFR). He will not rest until the 'needs of the majority' trump the 'interests of a special few'. Reform of government behaviour is a hard sell but in this case the right man is on the job. His motivation is the puzzling part for many people who still see the old John McCain. They ask why a life-long Republican would suddenly adopt CFR as passionately as McCain.

I have an answer. This is not about motivation, it is about inspiration and McCain's willingness to fight for a cause greater than his own self interest.

Being a 25 year resident of Arizona, I can say "I go back a ways with John". I remember when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. At that time the Ronald Reagan revolution held McCain's admiration and it was the Reagan allegiance that provided my first distaste for McCain. Over the years I watched him graduate to the Senate and even become a committee chair. he was apparently a man on the rise, climbing the ladder, only to find out that the ladder rungs can become very slippery if a person isn't careful. The slippery ladder I am referring to is the now famous 'Keating Five' of which McCain was a member. Senators Cranston, DeConcini, Glenn and Riegle rounded out the roster. Multimillionaire Charles Keating used campaign contributions to pursuade these five senators to thwart the investigation of his failing S&L.

Charles Keating was arrogant, smug and free-wheeling. He considered himself above the law. If there is one person I find more despicable than Bush, it is Charles Keating. He was a master at setting up the unwary politician. For McCain it was campaign donations of $112,000, a shopping-center development deal for his in-laws, use of Keating's private jet and family vacations in the Bahamas. Keating, the king of con-artists with a stellar performance, lured in McCain with hopes of calling in favors as he needed them. McCain swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

The Senate Ethics Committee investigated the Keating five and, as expected, they would receive a slap on the wrist. This seems to be the typical punishment for all Republicans regardless of the crime. McCain knows he was not only wrong but he had violated his oath of office in the severest of ways. If you look at his landslide victories you see a clear picture. It is not unusual for McCain to receive 60%-70% of the vote with over 55% of women and Hispanics and even as much as 40% of the Democrats. From these numbers you can see McCain's betrayal was felt over a very wide spectrum. Add the fact that of the five senators playing lackey for Keating, McCain was the most involved, which resulted in him not only lying, but going into a protracted period of contortions, wiggling and dancing, trying to deny what everyone already knew. He was guilty and in denial of being caught. This must have been terribly embarrassing.

It has now been 10 years since the Senate Ethics Committee closed their Keating five investigation. The cameras are silent and the reporters have moved on to other issues. Venturing a guess, I would say most people today don't really care about all this from the past and maybe some people never did care. Don't include McCain in that group. He will never forget the people most hurt by the S&L's. They are the same people who, in force, voted for him and the same people who propelled him to greatness over the years. He owes them for all the success which he and his family now enjoy and it is time to atone for his past mistakes. They are the last people on earth that McCain should have betrayed, but he did.

Many people were ruined by this man Keating, and it is the pain of these people that provides the inspiration which drives McCain and CFR. My instincts should be telling me to not trust McCain simply because he is a Republican. These instincts should be saying "he will use your support to further his agenda and then turn on you." After all, Republicans have for the last several years shown no concern for anyone's welfare except their own. Why would McCain be any different? For some reason, strange as it seems, I see a different person today than I would have seen just a few years ago. I see a man who is indeed struggling with the meanings of right and wrong, looking into his soul for maybe the first time ever, trying to explain to himself what his political career has created in terms of good versus bad. I see a man who finally realizes he has made mistakes in the past. His denial has come to an end. He also knows that there is nothing he can do to erase the damage of his past actions and in place of that he will settle for simply being the best person he can be.

He is willing to let the public evaluate him in a new light. He offers a new course which is in direct opposition to some of his apparent life-long beliefs. He now offers to spearhead Campaign Finance Reform, Patients Bill of Rights and maybe the toughest of all, gun control. Certainly he will be pounded by his fellow Republicans and most of all he will have the party base out for blood. Let's not even mention the insurance companies and the NRA going for the jugular. He is in for a rough ride. This is where we can help him.

I am willing to give McCain a chance to prove himself. Not because I remember the 1967 capture in Vietnam and the 5 years he spent as a POW. Not because his scrapbook contains a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross. Not because I hope he defects from the Republican party and goes Democratic or Independent. On the contrary, I would need a better reason than all those combined.


Yes, I am willing to trust McCain. I am willing to let him be a Republican and still have my backing. I will put aside my predudice and not judge him based on the conduct of his party members. My greatest fear is he will need a good deal of help with his new agenda. He can't possibly do it alone.

John McCain is the new sheriff in town and he is forming a posse. He is looking for a few good deputies. He will need the support of his fellow senators, the House members, and the public in general. Indeed he will have to deputize many people. I am at this moment pinning the tin star on my shirt. Of course that is a metaphor for writing an email to let him know that this cowboy is ready, willing and able to back him. Please feel free to do the same. Let McCain know that we care about his issues, that we are standing by his side and that we welcome him as a team player.

Previous to moving to McCain country, I spent many years in the D.C. area. I can honestly say I know a little about that town too. For example, one of the things that I learned in D.C. is that political amateurs simply do not last long. Something usually happens to expose them and as a consequnce, they are sent home, defeated and depressed. George W. Bush is a political amateur and someday we will witness his divine chastisement. Let's hope that John McCain is only the first of many who lead a charge against this great imposter administration.

So now you will have to excuse me, I hear McCain hollering "Saddle up". I don't want to keep the posse waiting, there is much work to do.

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